West Mich MLN: Poised for a Second Half Run

One of the biggest differences structurally between Major League Baseball and the Midwest League is the playoff format. While the MLB gauges its playoff contenders in terms of an entire season, the Midwest League takes the two division winners from each half of the season, and two wild card teams from each half.

Last year, this system proved to be extremely favorable for West Michigan. This year, early returns are that it could be headed the same way.

Though the 'Caps have an overall record of 39-41 on the year, their second half record early on is 7-4, which places them one game out of the Eastern Division lead.

Perhaps the biggest reason for this is third baseman Nick Castellanos, who's the highest rated prospect on the team. Though his numbers were on the lower end to start the season, Castellanos has boomed since the All Star Break, and is hitting .375 is his last ten starts.

Furthermore, he leads the team in many offensive statistics, including batting average (.306), runs batted in (48), doubles (21), triples (3), and slugging percentage (.441). He's also fourth in the Eastern Division in doubles, and fifth in RBI.

Center fielder Luis Castillo has also been boosting his stats as of late. He's second on the team in batting average at .302, and leads the team in walks and on base percentage. He's been solid defensively, as well, as he only has three errors on the year.

As a whole, the Whitecaps lead the Eastern Division in batting average and strikeouts.

On the mound, the starting rotation is starting to take shape, as righty Kevin Eichhorn (6-3, 3.29) is starting to look like the ace of the rotation. He has an impressive sixty-eight strikeouts against ninteen walks, which is the best ratio of the starting rotation.

West Michigan's bullpen continues to look impressive, led by Ramon Lebron (3-1, 1.83, 1 SV) who picked up his third win of the season yesterday against Fort Wayne. Bruce Rondon (2-1, 1.67, 15 SV) is picking up right where he left off at the All Star break as well, earning his fifteenth save of the year yesterday.

West Michigan's staff as a whole leads the Midwest League in home runs allowed, leads the Eastern Division in complete games, and is third in the Eastern Division in earned run average.

The Whitecaps complete their six game series today against Fort Wayne before heading to Lansing for a three game set against the Lugnuts. They will then return home for a big three game series against the Eastern Division's first half champions, Bowling Green.

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